Book of Proverbs: 31 verses from 31 chapters in 31 days – heaviness of heart (12:25)

Day 12: Heaviness of heart (12:25)

Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop: but a good word maketh it glad

There are two key aspects to our text for today: the recognition of depression and how it can bring us down (worry weighs us down) and what might be seen as the antidote: the timely word of encouragement that can lift us up (a cheerful word picks us up). As for having the blues or being depressed, it is a common human experience, and the last thing we should be doing is to tell people to pull themselves together. We can perhaps identify, for example, with the Psalmist, who was able to say: “why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance” Psalm 42:5. Just as a heart can be made heavy (for whatever reason and the reasons are many), so one way to lift someone out of depression is a good word, as with the Servant, who we often identify with Jesus, could and did give: “The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned” Isaiah 50:4.

The powerful effect of the spoken word, often linked to that of the tongue, is a reoccurring theme in Proverbs, including in this chapter: “He that speaketh truth sheweth forth righteousness: but a false witness deceit. There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health. The lip of truth shall be established for ever: but a lying tongue is but for a moment … Lying lips are abomination to the Lord: but they that deal truly are his delight (11:17-19, 22). It is a sobering thought that our tongue, which can do so much good, such as lifting up the downcast, can also do much harm: “It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell. This is scary: You can tame a tiger, but you can’t tame a tongue—it’s never been done. The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth!” (James 3:5-9 – The Message).

Other gems include: delighting in God (12:2), being rooted in God (12:3), a good wife (12:4), talking sense (12:8), good to be ordinary (12:9), kindness to animals (12:10), staying on the job (12:11), righteous give life (12:12)

Prayer: We recognise we all can be downhearted. Help us to see it in others so that we can bring a timely word of blessing. May we use our tongue wisely.

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